Date: 08 Feb 2012

The stop-and-drop problem in nonprofit food distribution networks

Abstract

In this paper, we introduce the stop-and-drop problem (SDRP), a new variant of location-routing problems, that is mostly applicable to nonprofit food distribution networks. In these distribution problems, there is a central warehouse that contains food items to be delivered to agencies serving the people in need. The food is delivered by trucks to multiple sites in the service area and partner agencies travel to these sites to pick up their food. The tactical decision problem in this setting involves how to jointly select a set of delivery sites, assign agencies to these sites, and schedule routes for the delivery vehicles. The problem is modeled as an integrated mixed-integer program for which we delineate a two-phase sequential solution approach. We also propose two Benders decomposition-based solution procedures, namely a linear programming relaxation based Benders implementation and a logic-based Benders decomposition heuristic. We show through a set of realistic problem instances that given a fixed time limit, these decomposition based methods perform better than both the standard branch-and-bound solution and the two-phase approach. The general problem and the realistic instances used in the computational study are motivated by interactions with food banks in southeastern United States.